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Batman tops YouTube’s list of most popular superheroes

Adam West In 'Batman'

Despite competition from cinematic upstarts like Iron Man, Wolverine and Captain America, Batman reigns as the most popular superhero on YouTube, with more than 3 billion views of a staggering 71,000 hours of video. But the character at No. 2 may surprise fans, and undoubtedly please Marvel Studios. Verily.

That’s according to research released today by the video-sharing website as part of its “Geek Week” celebration. The breakdown is based on keyword searches since 2008 for everything from film trailers to fan originals to video-game play.

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Artist unknowingly creates sculpture out of comics worth $30,000

Andrew Vickers, left, and Steve Eyre, with "Paperboy"

Andrew Vickers, left, and Steve Eyre, with “Paperboy”

When Andrew Vickers discovered some old comics in a dumpster, he did what any artist would do — OK, maybe not any artist — and transformed them into a man-sized (and -shaped) papier maché sculpture. And then he learned those comic books could have been worth nearly $30,000. The operative phrase there is could have been.

The sculpture, called “Paperboy,” on display through Thursday in Sheffield, England, includes the first issue of The Avengers, which on its own might’ve been worth as much as $15,000 on its own. Y’know, before it was torn apart and pasted to a chicken-wire frame (granted, the comic probably wasn’t in mint condition in the trash).

World of Superheroes owner Steve Eyre initially thought the sculpture was “fantastic,” and then he recognized the cover of 1963′s The Avengers #1 on “Paperboy’s” inside-right leg.

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SDCC ’13 | Marvel announces Comic-Con-exclusive merchandise

avengers poster-skottie young

Marvel has announced a line-up of merchandise for Comic-Con International that includes a Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. T-shirt, a Rocket Raccoon mug and, perhaps most adorably of all, Skottie Young’s Avengers movie poster (part of the Phase 1 Marvel Cinematic Universe Blu-Ray Collector’s Set) and glass tumbler.

The limited-edition pieces will be available at the Marvel booth (#2329) at the San Diego Convention Center. See the list, with images, below:

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The Fifth Color | Janet Van Dyne, the first Avenger

Tales_to_Astonish_Vol_1_44Tales to Astonish #44 hit newsstands, and our hearts, in June 1963. The cover promised us a cool, green space monster and the debut of a new character: “Meet the flying Wasp!,” we’re told and, hey, there she is flying across the front of the book in a triumphant fashion. While she may be Ant-Man’s new “partner-in-peril,” she doesn’t look too imperiled as she carries what looks like a swooning Hank Pym out of the creature’s grasp.

The Wasp rarely is the swooning, damsel in distress: She’s gone through some peril to be sure, from her personal life to her costumed adventuring career, but this woman doesn’t shirk her responsibilities or morals to cower or retire. Technically, she’s been an Avenger since the team’s inception and remains unique in the field of superheroics: while most heroes have greatness thrust upon them or fight to survive, Janet Van Dyne actively chose this life. She’s accepted herself enough to be public about being a “costumed adventurer” and is rich enough to make it her primary occupation with little to no angst about how she got to where she is today. Becoming the Wasp was a way for her to avenge her father’s death, and that may have inspired the name for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.

This month is the 50th anniversary of the winsome Wasp and, while most think of her in small terms, her impact on the Marvel Universe is gigantic.

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Phil Coulson returns early in fan-made ‘Die Hard’ pin-up

coulson-mcclane

We’re still waiting on find out how Phil Coulson came back from that fatal impalement in The Avengers movie to star in the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. television series, but hisseemingly inability to die is being played up by an up-and-coming indie artist.

Samir Barrett has put the Coulson character side by side with Die Hard‘s John McClane in a fully rendered pin-up that should get your fanboy (or fangirl) heart pumping:

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Joe Quesada learns you don’t mess with Agent Coulson

quesada-gregg

Marvel’s Chief Creative Officer Joe Quesada tweeted the above photo of himself taking a punch to the jaw from Phil Coulson himself, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. star Phil Coulson, writing, “Reminder to self, don’t touch Lola … ever again!”

That’s a reference to a scene from the first trailer for the upcoming ABC action drama in which Coulson cautions a member of the Helicarrier hangar deck crew, “Don’t touch Lola,” his shiny red convertible.

Created by Joss Whedon with Dollhouse veterans Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  also stars Ming-Na as Agent Melina May, Elizabeth Henstridge as Agent Gemma Simmons, Iain De Caestecker as Agent Leo Fitz, Brett Dalton as Agent Grant Ward and Chloe Bennett as Skye. The series will air Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.

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Comics-based movies: Breaking ‘the book was better’ rule

iron-man-poster-2

“Demon in a Bottle” will probably be better since well, you know…

Are you getting excited? New teasers and trailers are being released almost every day now. The countdown to Summer Movie Season is officially on, and the big blockbusters adapting comics are looking promising. Iron Man 3 has an armada of armors flying around; can’t really go wrong there. The Wolverine has ninjas as far as the eye can see. And the bearded and brooding Man of Steel might even end up being good. Throw in a little Kick-Ass 2 and RED 2, sprinkle with R.I.P.D. and 300: Rise of an Empire, and top it off with 2 Guns, and you’ve got yourself one fun summer.

While we still get clunkers, the ratio of good to suck has definitely improved. It used to be that the old chestnut response to a movie adapted from a novel could be more often than not applied to movies adapted from comics: The book was better. And it’s often still true. But there are times when the movies do it better than comics, and while that’s great for the filmmakers and audiences, in a way it’s an indictment on the comics-makers.

Comics offer more boundless creativity than almost any medium. With comics, there’s no studio executive, no creation-by-committee made up of shareholders and board members with less experience creating and telling stories than their companies’ interns. It’s why Tony Stark being an alcoholic doesn’t fly with Disney and was removed from Iron Man 3. Comics can still include collaboration and compromise but they can just as easily be the result of a single voice. Even with the most heavy-handed editorially mandated comics, they’re still created by a fraction of people needed to make a Hollywood movie. Comics are generally more spontaneous, imaginative and clever than most major studio movies. But sometimes, Hollywood gets the jump on comics.

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200,000 more passionate customers or 20 million casual ones?

guardians of the galaxy1

March’s best-selling comic book

Is the goal for comics to become a mainstream form of entertainment an unattainable goal? That seemed to be the angle Tom Spurgeon took on Monday’s Deconstructing Comics podcast and in his additional commentary at The Comics Reporter. He feels the industry is better served by regaining a few hundred thousand more devoted readers to restore unit sales to mid-six-figure levels. While comics have shown there is longevity in niche markets, that doesn’t eliminate the possibility of also attaining a larger readership.

With March’s estimated direct market sales figures showing yet another double-digit month of growth, manga publishers giving anecdotal reports of the manga market stabilizing, and something of a convention boom going on, there’s no better time than now to re-examine how comics can secure a healthy and vibrant future. Taking advantage of this growth is tricky because, as Spurgeon mentions, no one is exactly sure why the turnaround happened. Although people complain about DC Comics’ New 52 being a mess and Marvel crossovers not having the punch of the Civil War days, overall sales are rebounding. Was it digital comics? Was it the mainstream press for the New 52 or Marvel NOW, or some other stunt? Is it the Hollywood movies?

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What if corporate-owned heroes had corporate sponsors?

sponsored heroes3

Booster Gold was introduced in 1986 as a glory-seeking time traveler eager to sign endorsement deals, and in his appearance on The CW’s Smallville wore a costume emblazoned with corporate logos, similar to a NASCAR racing suit. But what if other superheroes followed in Booster’s footsteps?

In his series “Sponsored Heroes,” Roberto Vergati Santos envisions costumed heroes from comics and films if they were getting some sweet, sweet sponsorship money from the likes of Nike, Apple and Coca-Cola (although why a cosmic entity like Galactus, the Devourer of Worlds, would need corporate cash is beyond me).

Some of the results a much better than others. You can see a sampling below, or view the entire series at Behance.

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50 years of the Avengers, assembled on one poster

avengers-detail

I saw this on io9 over the weekend and couldn’t resist:a poster created by Michael Mateyko of Komboh for Emerald City Comicon depicting the membership of Marvel’s the Avengers over the past 50 years. It’s available as a print at their Society 6 store.

Venom? Dr. Octopus? They’ll allow anyone in these days.

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The Fifth Color | Who are the Avengers NOW?

NOW is the time for adorable variants!Marvel NOW! is not half bad! In fact, from this new vantage point where we’ve mostly seen the first major debuts roll out through November, I can say that it’s a bigger success than the Heroic Age. There’s been some significant changes to theme and tone of our superheroes while still leaving continuity intact and everyone recognizable to the public. Everything that happened in the past few months of comics has carried over into the NOW!, we’re just looking at it with a new style, a fresh coat of paint and, of course, oodles of variant covers.

Story styles and artistic choices come and go, and while we might love a particular run or artist team, we have to adapt and move into more modern and evolving ideas for the Marvel Universe. Sure, I’m not too on board with the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy series because I really enjoyed their previous iteration, but if you look at the last series, it was a far cry from what it was when it started. Why not give the new book a chance and see if it can hook me in all over again? Losing Peter Parker as Spider-Man (for a while) is a big deal, but why not watch just to see how Dan Slott pulls this whole thing off? Change is good is what I’m trying to say, and Marvel NOW!, while still essentially the same heroes and villains we know and love, is also a lot of change.

It’s weird to think that Brian Michael Bendis pretty much set the Avengers for the modern era. Yes, great storytellers had come before to establish what we all know and love about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but Bendis really did blow all that up and rebuilt Marvel’s premier super-team from the ground up. From Stark Tower to the essential leadership of Captain America and Iron Man to who’s on the roster and why, to endless, endless lunches, most new comic readers know of the Avengers through Bendis’ work. He’s the man who made us read the book, for better or for worse and for six years, he’s been the bottom line in Earth’s Mightiest Heroism. It’s a really tough act to follow, but if anyone is going to make us say “Bendis who?” in the next few months, it’s Jonathan Hickman. Starting from the first issue (on sale this week!), there’s a stage being set that will change the way we view the Avengers and their place in the grand scheme of the universe.

But who are the Avengers? What does it mean to join their ranks? How is it that, within the confines of a single issue, we’ve learned the essential secret to this new NOW! series? Click on, Dear Reader, and I will explain.

WARNING: I’ll be talking about the contents of Avengers #1, but you still probably want to read Avengers #1 and see for yourself if any of my theories match up. So grab a copy and read along!

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Butcher Billy inserts some four-color magic back into superhero movies

We’ve featured the Brazilian artist Butcher Billy a couple of times in Art Barrage; he’s an illustrator whose work demonstrates a keen eye for modern culture and a wicked sense of humor. His latest portfolio of work, posted at the creative network Behance, is “The Superhero Media Crossover Project,” a collection of images inserting comic art into stills taken from their movie adaptations. It’s very effective, and strangely moving, for this fan of classic comic art, anyway. These images demonstrate what, to me, is missing in just about every comics-to-film adaptation  — a little pop-art brightness and fizz (Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World being the only one in recent times to get a pass on this matter — am I really the only one who wants to see sound effects rather than just hearing them?). In Billy’s own words:

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Hawkeye runs out of arrows in Saturday Night Live’s Avengers spoof

The Avengers star Jeremy Renner hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend, bringing with him not only a ratings boost — it was the second-highest rated episode of the season — but also a send-up of Marvel’s $1.5 billion blockbuster. The skit lampoons Hawkeye’s contributions to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the archer runs out of arrows at a crucial time in their battle against the Chitauri. “I’m all out of arrows, I don’t have any more,” Hawkeye says. “So, uh, I guess I’m done, right? All right, I’ll be in the car. Stay safe!”

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Old graphic novels live again — as the Avengers

My good friend Robin Brenner is an expert on graphic novels (she’s a former Eisner Awards judge) and the young-adult librarian at the Brookline, Massachusetts, public library. She’s also very clever with her hands, as you can see from these book hedgehogs she made from discarded books.

The basic algorithm for making book hedgehogs is pretty simple, but Robin took it a step further and came up with a whole array of personalized hedgehogs based on comics characters. Here are some close-ups, including the tiny bow and arrows for the Hawkeye hedgehog, and here is a gallery of more characters. It’s amazing what you can do with an old book, some duct tape, and plenty of imagination!

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Loki is a big fan of Kieron Gillen’s Loki

Oh, sure, he may have enslaved Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig, wreaked havoc on Cleveland Stuttgart, Germany, and Cleveland New York City, and killed Agent Phil Coulson in Marvel’s The Avengers, but deep down Loki is a pretty swell guy. Er, god.

For proof you need look no further than this week’s Journey Into Mystery #645, which marks the departure of writer Kieron Gillen, whose take of “Kid Loki” has made the pint-size god of mischief beloved by Tumblr users the world over. Gillen’s final “Journey Into Stationery” letter page starts with a laudatory message from a certain Tom Hiddleston, who knows a thing or two about Loki:

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